One hundred and eighty-five. That’s it. That’s the most Lockheed F-22 Raptor stealth fighters the U.S. Air Force will ever possess after production ended earlier this year. The Air Force actually procured 195 F-22s starting in the mid-1990s, but eight were test models and two operational models have crashed (as has one of the test airframes).
Some perspective: the Air Force concluded it needed 381 operational Raptors to meet all its air-combat needs with low risk. Two-hundred and forty was considered a medium risk. The 187 figure was budget-driven and was adequate to equip just six frontline squadrons plus training and test units and several “associate” squadrons that provide aircrews but do not own airplanes.